I recently found myself at a local Barnes & Noble with my four- and six-year-old boys on a weekday afternoon. On most occasions, I would have been less than thrilled about this situation. This time, though, we were supposed to be playing putt-putt and an unexpected rain storm had saved me from that fate.
Don’t get me wrong. I love putt-putt. However, I’m a miniature golf traditionalist. I like orange rails and rectangular blocks guarding the holes, not rocks, waterfalls, and totem poles. Also, my children have no respect for the game; they are intrepid cheaters.
So, I was relieved to be meandering through the children’s section of a large book store while the boys bounced around the story time stage trying on a variety of adorable animal hand puppets.
“Daddy! Come watch our puppet show!” my 6-year-old said excitedly, pulling me by the arm away from an oddly enthralling display of children’s books about pigs.
I quickly snapped out of my pig-induced trance at the sound of the word “puppet.” I’m a freak for puppetry.
“Let’s do this,” I said as my oldest son dragged me toward a tiny bench in front of the small semicircular stage plopped between two cardboard trees whose branches reached up to the ceiling.
I perched on the wooden bench that was no more than a foot off the ground. My back began to ache almost immediately.
My little thespians took to the stage, one standing behind each cardboard tree. The six-year-old led the way as big brothers are supposed to do.
“Hello,” he said stepping out into the spotlight with a furry puppet on his hand. “I’m Mr. Hedgehog.”
“Hello,” I replied because I felt obligated.
“And I’m Mr. Fox,” the four-year-old said, taking his turn. “I live in a haunted tree. All I have is a sleeping bag.”
Well, that escalated quickly.
“Hold on one second, folks,” the six-year-old said. “We’ll be right back with some special friends.”
Both boys scampered off the stage toward the racks overflowing with fluffy puppets. I was glad to have a moment to catch my breath and contemplate what the heck was going on with Mr. Fox.
The friends soon arrived.
“This is my friend, Mr. Dinosaur,” Mr. Hedgehog said.
“And this is my friend,” Mr. Fox said. “His name is Bunny Bunny Foo Foo.”
“I like to eat carrots,” Bunny Bunny Foo Foo said. “And fur.”
Wait, and fur?
This was certainly a plot twist, but not an entirely unexpected one. I had been wondering how the vignette would reach its inevitable conclusion. Right on cue, Bunny Bunny Foo Foo started nibbling on Mr. Fox and then they started banging into each other dramatically.
The plot of the puppet show meandered a bit from there. Many new characters were introduced. Many old favorites met tragic ends. Ultimately, the show ended with two dragons calling each other a poop emoji and then taking out their aggressions by devouring all the other creatures for some reason. Frankly, it seemed like as good a place to end as any.
And with that, we made our way toward the exit. Well, we made our way toward the exit after pit stops to play at the train table and argue over which toys we weren’t going to buy (all of them).
Yet another successful day in the books.